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Business trends

Hong Kong's port grapples with slow shift to automation

'Hypercompetitive' battle for cargo heats up as rivals offer lower rates and faster service

Terminal operators are keen for the Port of Hong Kong to catch up with its mainland rivals. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

HONG KONG -- Less than two decades ago, Hong Kong's container port stood as testament to the city's role as a gateway between China and the rest of the world. As recently as 2004, it was the world's busiest port. Now, the strains are evident.

Crane operators endure long hours in a demanding environment -- lackluster working conditions are discouraging potential new laborers from entering the workforce, and replacing retiring operators is a challenge.

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